The root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be found in the history and development of Zionism. Colliding Dreams is a documentary that traces that history “as seen through the eyes of the inhabitants of the land.” It provides a good introduction to some of the issues that drive both peoples and the way those issues have shifted through the decades.
The film is organized into chapters that show various stages in the development of Zionism. Chapter I is entitled “The Jewish Dilemma.” It shows the ways Jews in Eastern Europe really had no place in society. When pogroms began in the 1880s some suggested moving to Palestine and resettling. The first such settlers began going there in 1882. Bu the end of the 19th Century a Zionist Congress began meeting to promote this as a political idea.
Chapter II, “One Land, Two People,” begins with the 1917 Balfour Declaration by the British Government supporting a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. (It is of note, that Britain did not possess Palestine at that point.) Immigration of European Jews continued, and it began to create some friction with the inhabitants of the region. This chapter continues through Israeli Independence and the War of Independence, which set the boundary between Israel and the Arab areas. At this point talk of Zionism went away because its goals had been accomplished.
Chapter III, “Another Zionism,” begins following the Six Day War in 1967. After that war, when Israel began occupying the West Bank, some more conservative religious groups began to talk of Zionism in messianic terms. They proposed that Israel should settle all the lands of ancient Israel (which reached well into Iraq). This is a time of a political shift within Israel.
Chapter IV, “Recognition,” focuses on the ongoing hostilities that grow out of the dispossession of the Palestinian people, starting with the First Intifada. The film ends with a Coda, “The Zionist Dilemma” which outlines the basic reality that the occupation has been a major transformation from original Zionist principles and that there seems no just and politically acceptable way of dealing with the issues that Israelis and Palestinians face.
As the film says at the beginning, all of this is related by “the inhabitants of the land,” both Jewish and Palestinian. It includes people whose families were among the early settlers to come from Europe, soldiers from various wars, academics, and people from all walks of life. They have wide ranging understandings of the problem that Zionism has created, even though they may recognize the need for the original idea of Zionism. The film is balanced in its approach and brings insight that bring the current situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories into focus in ways some may not have considered.
Photos courtesy of International Film Circuit